Wolves return to Premier League action this weekend as they take on struggling Burnley in the dreaded 1:30pm Sunday kick off.
At least we don’t have to wait till Monday night like fans of Brighton and Southampton. The international break probably came at the wrong time for Wolves after two excellent performances against Manchester City and West Ham whereas, for Burnley, you’d imagine Sean Dyche couldn’t wait.
Wolves left it very late last time out as they picked up their first win of the season against The Irons. Substitute Adama Traore scored the only goal of the game in the 93rd minute to give Wolves a 1-0 victory away from home. Rui Patricio was tested on very few occasions but when required, he made two crucial saves to deny Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic. Wolves could have scored more than one goal with Matt Doherty going close twice, and Raul Jimenez having what was the best chance of the game, but he couldn’t connect with Doherty’s low pass and ended up in a heap on the grass.
The Mexican was one of 9 Wolves players to play for their national sides, with Leander Dendoncker the only one called up not to feature. Jimenez scored a penalty for Mexico but also missed one in a 4-1 defeat to Uruguay. However, Jimenez did return to Compton Park from the Mexico camp early with conflicting reports from Mexico. Some suggest Jimenez had a muscle injury and Wolves wanted him back so he could prepare for the visit of Burnley.
Ruben Neves made a welcome return to the Portugal squad alongside Rui Patricio with both featuring in both of Portugal’s games as they drew against World Cup Finalists Croatia and beat Italy 1-0. Diogo Jota captained Portugal Under 21’s as they lost to Romania but beat Wales whilst Ruben Vinagre played one game for their Under 20 side. Morgan Gibbs-White played 90 minutes for England Under 19’s with Romain Saiss also getting 90 minutes for Morocco.
Matt Doherty didn’t receive similar international minutes as his teammates did, as he played 36 minutes for the Republic Of Ireland in a 1-1 draw against Poland with boss Martin O’Neill demanding Doherty change his style if he wants to feature for Ireland. In a bizarre interview with the Irish Independent, he told them that Doherty needs to be able to ‘drive forward’ instead of ‘checking back’ as he does at Wolves. That’s left many Irish fans furious.
Back to Sunday’s game, Burnley sit second bottom with only 1 point, which came on the opening day against Southampton. Out of their summer trio of signings, Joe Hart, Matej Vydra and Ben Gibson, only Gibson has impressed so far. Even so, Burnley’s defence isn’t as solid as last season, as they’ve conceded the second most goals with 9 as they shipped 3 against Watford and 4 against Fulham. With their defence out of sorts, you’d hope Burnley’s attack was able to make up for it however they’ve scored 3 goals so far. To be fair to them, Wolves have only scored 4 but have conceded 4 fewer goals which is the difference.
Steven Defour is still injured after suffering a calf injury in July whilst keeper Nick Pope is still out. It remains to be seen when Johann Berg Gudmundsson will return and without him, Burnley don’t have that creative spark. Youngster Dwight McNeill has impressed in his last two games and it’ll be interesting to see how he copes against Wolves’ defence.Embed from Getty Images
After Burnley, Wolves have Manchester United away and then Southampton at home. It is these two home games Wolves should be targeting to pick up 6 points. Wolves have an excellent record at Molineux although Burnley will be a tough test.
Burnley could set up in either a 4-5-1 formation or a 4-4-2, but the latter is probably what the fans will want. If they do set up with two up top, they could cause Wolves problems with the aerial threat of long-term Wolves target Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes. It seemed to be for every transfer window under Kenny Jackett, Wolves wanted Chris Wood but they never got him. Stephen Ward and Sam Vokes will also be making returns to Molineux. They will also need to make use of set pieces, something Wolves have looked vulnerable from in recent times, as shown against City and Everton.
Nuno will have one selection headache providing Jimenez is fit and there are no other injuries. Does Traore start or does he come off the bench again? Traore has been effective off the bench and has not started for Wolves with Nuno wanting the Spaniard to get used to how Wolves play. Who drops out, Helder Costa or Diogo Jota? On current form, it would be Jota. If Jimenez isn’t fit it will be a choice of Leo Bonatini through the middle or Jota, which would mean Jota, Costa & Traore all start.Embed from Getty Images
Dendoncker didn’t receive any minutes for Belgium so perhaps he isn’t ready to start, whilst I’m sure we are all waiting for the return of Ivan Cavaleiro.
Predicted team (3-4-3)
Patricio; Bennett, Coady(C), Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez, Costa.
Predicted result – 2-1 Wolves.